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10 Striking Training and Development Trends You Need to Know in 2021

Learning and Development | 8 Min Read

10 Striking Training and Development Trends You Need to Know in 2021

The Top Emerging Trends in Training and Development

As we explore learning and development trends in 2021, we believe that success and innovation in employee learning and development will depend on how businesses apply their acquired knowledge in 2020 to create growth and expansion opportunities this year. Training statistics reports emphasize the need for adaptive learning and focus on enhanced innovative learning experiences. Corporate training statistics in 2021, for instance, predict a notable rise in gamification across major L&D approaches.


Personalized Training and Adaptive Learning Programs will Emerge As the ‘Go-To’ L&D Formula


The new learning and development trends mandate preparing for uncertainties and the changing nature of work.

Thus, L&D programs in 2021 will include different types of L&D projects and activities focusing on:

  • Honing transferable skills.
  • Upskilling to ensure employees can further their abilities and employability.
  • Adaptive learning to empower professionals, enabling them to perform amid unexpectedly changing circumstances.
  • Customized employee development.
  • Opportunities for continual learning.
  • Enabling employees to share and master new skills.
  • Incorporating ongoing opportunities for feedback and coaching.
  • Enabling easy access to proven methods of building and mastering skills beyond their current job descriptions.

Corporate training and development statistics continue to prove that the next generation places a profoundly greater premium on learning and skill-building. People now rank the “opportunity to learn” among their top reasons for taking up a job. (Source: LinkedIn) Hence, the onus of learning now shifts to businesses, not academia.

Therefore, personalized experiences will be a key focus for many ROI-centered L&D groups in 2021. As emerging technologies increasingly streamline and automate general tasks, employees’ responsibilities will become more specialized. In such a scenario, personalized training with adaptive learning programs will help reskill and upskill more effectively, defining the future of learning and development at the workplace.


Superteams: A Powerful Addition to Future Trends in Training and Development


Superteams are the key to being agile enough to respond to business challenges. It is about identifying the sweet spot that combines people and technology, using their cumulative strengths to pursue outcomes at speed and scale, not otherwise possible. Also, AI can be essential to a superteam’s ability to create new value.

Organizations with above-average diversity produced a larger proportion of revenue from innovation (45% of total) when compared with below-average diversity (26%), which translated into stronger overall financial performance. As AI brings its own style of “thinking” to a team, the mix of human and machine intelligence can yield diversity bonuses that exceed those produced by teams composed of only humans, however diverse.

Deloitte insights

Gamification will Influence New Trends in Training and Development


Gamification has been making waves as one of the emerging trends in learning and development for quite some time, but we expect it to gain further traction in 2021.

  • Applying gamification to learning programs boosts learner engagement by 60%. (Source: Gartner)
  • Almost 80% of the learners say that they would be more productive if their university/institution or work were more game-like. (Source: Talent LMS)
  • 89% of learners say that a point system would increase their engagement with an eLearning application. (Source: Talent LMS)

Leveraging eLearning gamification in an L&D program is one of the best moves companies can make to keep up with the new training and development industry trends, especially in a remote work scenario.

  • Gamified elements in L&D programs create higher engagement levels in participants.
  • Because of a higher engagement quotient, a gamification strategy helps achieve higher completion rates and better recall and retention.
  • Gamification can create a competition level that encourages employees to perform better and contribute more.
  • It is a versatile strategy that can be applied to meet various cognition levels—to help learners learn, practice, apply, or upskill.

Web conferencing, trivia-like assessments, point and badge systems, etc., are a few ideas that can potentially maximize the possibilities and applications of gamified training and development methods post-COVID.


Latest Trends in Training and Development Focusing on Employee Skills

Soft Skills Training will Top Futuristic L&D Trends


Companies, in 2021, will gain more awareness about soft skills and their role in success. Consequently, they will strengthen their related learning and development efforts.

  • Companies investing in futuristic L&D programs can expect up to 24% higher profit margins. (Source: HuffPost) It mandates identifying skills needed for the future and develop employees accordingly.
  • 94% of employees claim that they would remain with a company longer if it invested in their careers. While 70% of employees indicated that job-related training and development opportunities influenced their decision to stay with an employer.
    (Source: LinkedIn)

We can expect a fundamental shift in training and development trends where individuals are mentored for:


The focus of latest training and development trends


Remote Upskilling and Reskilling Programs will Revolutionize Recent Trends in Training and Development


Agile learning methodologies focusing on speed, flexibility and collaboration are the future of employee training and development. In fact, the quick shift to remote work in 2020 has already necessitated the first major round of rapid upskilling for both learners and trainers.

Among the new trends in learning and development, the ongoing pandemic has accelerated remote upskilling and reskilling approaches.

Learning and development trends post-COVID will witness more businesses:

  • Navigate new technologies to facilitate remote learning, working and collaboration.
  • Facilitate upskilling and reskilling initiatives, enabling organizations to remain competitive in increasingly dynamic market conditions.
  • Ensure that people are rapidly reskilled for the benefit of work and business performance, with the primary goal to manage the perpetual skills gaps better.

There will be a Surge in ‘Lifelong Learning’ Attitudes


Businesses will need to undergo significant attitude changes to stay ahead in 2021. We can expect a change in the traditional L&D trends, as employees are encouraged to adopt a lifelong learning approach at work. Professionals will be continuously pushed to seek new ways to hone their skills, better their team-building, and excel at other learning and development areas.

  • Even the most conservative statistics and current trends in training and development suggest growing job obsolescence in the coming years. In such a scenario where much of human work is expected to be automated, employee training and development trends will lean toward alternative skill requirements and learning necessities.
  • Companies are seeking intellectual dexterity just as much as technical expertise. In the face of increased automation in the future of work, uniquely human skills will have to be paired up with technical knowledge and advanced problem-solving abilities. (Source: Pew)
  • 87% of adults in the workforce acknowledge the need to receive training and hone new skills throughout their careers to keep up with workplace changes. (Source: Pew Research Centre)


The Growing Role of Technology in Training and Development Trends

AI Will Gain Prominence in the Talent Development Ecosystem


Artificial Intelligence has been gradually creeping into the learning technology stack, using recommendation engines and smart assessments. The results are exciting. So is the predicted scenario, indicating that AI will screen, select and train a greater number of professionals.

  • 84% of enterprises are convinced that investing in AI will ensure greater competitive advantages. (Source: Forbes)
  • 34% of professionals expect their jobs to be automated in 3 years. (Source: Forbes)
  • 34% of HR leaders are investing in AI for workforce learning and reskilling. (Source: Forbes)
  • By 2024, AI, virtual personal assistants and chatbots are expected to replace almost 69% of the managers’ workload. (Source: Gartner)

The increasing use of AI will empower businesses to:


The role of Artificial Intelligence in workplace training and development trends


Besides, artificial intelligence can provide significantly more inclusive learning courses and experiences. When using the advanced web or app-accessibility features, AI can adapt to the employees’ specific requirements and enable their functioning senses in learning. Hence, enabling persons with disabilities to utilize learning opportunities optimally.


Corporate Learning and Development Trends will Absorb Mobile Experiences


Smartphones have become the default medium for employees to access emails, social media and crucial information. Hence, 2021 will witness a boom in mobile learning initiatives as corporations increasingly adapt to the changing learning appetites and dynamics to grow and train their workforce.

  • Modern corporate learners are overwhelmed, distracted and impatient. They check their phones up to 9 times in an hour! (Source: Deloitte)
  • Over 90% of large organizations offer ‘flexible work’ patterns. This includes learning 24X7, learning on the go – the flexibility of learning whenever and wherever, on the preferred device, usually a mobile device. (Source: SHRM)
  • Smartphone users finish courses, on average, 45% faster than traditional computer users. (Source: Lynda (LinkedIn Learning))
  • An experiment has estimated that providing training on mobile devices leads to 4,270 hours of extra productivity! (Source: Lynda (LinkedIn Learning))

As forward-thinking L&D managers look for new solutions to inspire their workforce and retain top talent, mobile learning offers a way to future-proof and stay ahead of the learning curve.


L&D Trends Shaping the Future of Performance Review

Organizations will Increasingly Embrace 360-Feedback


Statistics on employee training and development reveal that 360-degree feedback has been replacing conventional appraisal programs in recent years. In 2021, this approach is set to become the norm.

  • In 2016, Harvard Business Review reported that performance management practices are undergoing a massive change. Ongoing feedback, coaching and 360-feedback will now become mainstream. (Source: HBR)
  • Over 85% of all Fortune 500 companies use the 360-degree feedback process as a cornerstone of their overall leadership development process. (Source: Forbes)
  • If implemented correctly, they work well, say psychologists specializing in 360 assessments. Usually, the more feedback, the better. (Source: American Psychological Association)

360-degree feedback is vital because it is holistic and future-ready. It helps collect data from colleagues, subordinates and clients to help understand how well employees are performing and how individuals might need to change their behaviors to create a more productive workplace.

As one of the emerging trends in training and development this year, 360-feedback promises to encourage:

  • Self-awareness among leaders.
  • Clearer behavioral perspectives within a team.
  • Understanding ‘how’ things get done, instead of ‘what’ gets done in a group.
  • Dialogue for improvement based on evaluating the strengths and weaknesses among professionals and their supervisors.
  • Personal development and accountability at the workplace.

Real-Time Feedback will be Constant, Suggests the Recent Trends in Training and Development in HRM


The training and development trend of real-time feedback grew significantly in 2020. As more companies recognize the flaws with sticking to only an annual review, real-time feedback promises to stay.

  • A culture of feedback allows managers to recognize top performers and provide an early and timely course correction.
  • Real-time feedback tracks employee accomplishments throughout the year, helping eliminate biases.
  • Constructive feedback helps employees stay on track with their goals through the year.

More importantly, switching to real-time feedback promotes a culture of transparency and trust, which, in turn, is key to making remote employees feel connected to the organization in a meaningful way.



This blog offers insights into the major training and development trends that will transform corporate L&D approaches the world over in 2021. From an increased focus on ongoing skill-development to the performance review transformations that support an employee’s growth, the L & D trends in 2021 are futuristic, humane and in tune with the uncertain circumstances expected to prevail in the post-COVID times.

Which of the learning and development trends do you think will benefit your HR decisions the most? Tell us in the comments below.



What’s new in learning and development?

The recent trends in employee learning and development indicate a rise in personalized programs, encouraging the growth of superteams and embracing gamification methods for training.


What are the latest training trends?

Soft skills training, remote upskilling and reskilling programs and a lifelong learning approach define the current corporate training trends.


How can you improve learning and development in the workplace?

Utilizing technology to make L&D more attractive is one of the key ways organizations are improving their training and development methods at the workplace.

Originally published February 3 2021, Updated October 4 2021

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About This Topic

Skill gap analysis is a strategy that organizations use to future-proof their workforce. Skill gap analysis involves assessing the current skill levels of your workforce to be able to analyze the gaps and the proper diagnosis for bridging those skill gaps.

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